DURHAM — Throughout the season, N.C. Central coach Henry Frazier III has preached one phrase to his players about the style of play he wants to embody Bring the hammer.
The Eagles brought the hammer in every phase, scoring a touchdown on the ground, through the air, on special teams and on defense, to crush Hampton, 37-20, on Thursday night in their first televised game as a member of the MEAC.
Each time Hampton (1-5, 1-3 MEAC) scored, the Eagles (5-2, 4-0) had an answer. And when the Pirates pulled within three points with 9:21 remaining, senior Arthur Goforth responded by returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
On defense, linebacker Ty Brown suffocated the Pirates. The reigning MEAC Defensive Player of the Week finished with a sack and another tackle for loss.
Hampton struck first with a field goal on their second drive. After two long passes, NCCU linebacker Ty Brown shot up the middle and sacked the Hampton quarterback, helping hold the Pirates to a 41-yard field goal by Taurean Durham.
The next 6 minutes, 11 seconds changed the game for the Eagles as they would force three turnovers each resulting in touchdowns.
Linebacker Tazmon Foster supplied the spark for the Eagles with an 80-yard interception that he returned for a touchdown after shedding four different tacklers to give the Eagles a three-point lead after the missed point-after attempt.
A botched snap by Hampton gave the Eagles another opportunity from the Hampton 18, which resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by Andre Clark on fourth down, putting the Eagles up by 10.
After another fumble by the Pirates, quarterback Jordan Reid hit Geovonie Irvine in stride for a 30-yard touchdown on the first play following the fumble, putting NCCU up 20-3 heading into the half.
With the Eagles leading 23-13, momentum shifted with 10:02 remaining in the fourth quarter when a bad snap by the Eagles gave the Pirates an opportunity to come back. Jeremiah Schwartz then broke off a 38-yard touchdown run, bringing the score to 23-20 after the two-point conversion with 9:21 remaining in the game.
Goforth responded with the 90-yard return to put the Eagles up for good on the ensuing kickoff. Gary Douglas put the game out of reach for N.C. Central with a 21-yard touchdown reception on the next drive.